- Tesla’s Investor Day this week helped draw shareholders’ attention to the broader organization under Tesla’s prominent CEO.
- However, the presentation could have used more focus and polish, said Marisa Thomas, founder of Pivotal Media, who has been training executives in technology, finance and elected officials to improve their presentation skills for more than a decade.
Elon Musk speaks at Tesla Investor Day.
When Tesla CEO Elon Musk was promoting an Investor Day 2023 event to be held on March 1, he promised to unveil his “Master Plan 3,” a long-term vision for the company’s next phase of growth.
Last year, Musk said his new plan would include details on: “Scale to the extreme scale needed to move humanity off fossil fuels and AI.” He also promised that the plan would include “sections on SpaceX, Tesla and The Boring Company” would contain.
However, the hour-long Tesla Investor Day on Wednesday night left many shareholders and fans wanting more, sending Tesla’s stock price lower on Thursday, although analysts were generally upbeat.
Analysts at Deutsche Bank wrote in an auto update Friday morning: “Following Tesla’s Investor Day, we were admittedly disappointed with the general lack of detail on its next-generation platform, including launch timing, vehicle segments and price points, and financial implications. At the same time, the company has shown impressive traction and presented high-level plans for deep technological and manufacturing improvements that we believe leave the long-term uptrend in volume and margin intact.”
At the event, there was no discussion of the highly affordable electric car the company first teased at a Battery Day 2020 event, no update on when deliveries would start for the Cybertruck, no details on the long-delayed, facelifted Roadster, and no update on the progress of the heavy-duty transport company with its new articulated lorry.
Musk didn’t discuss how Tesla plans to partner with his other ventures. And a “Master Plan 3” document was still not published on the company’s Investor Relations page as of Friday morning.
What worked in the presentation and what didn’t?
Pivotal Media founder Marisa Thomas, who has been training tech, financial and elected official executives to improve their presentation skills for more than a decade, shared her analysis with us.
One thing Investor Day did well was bring shareholders’ attention to the broader organization under Tesla’s prominent CEO.
During the event, Tesla featured 17 different company leaders who spoke about what the company has accomplished so far and where it plans to go next.
“I think it’s not the Elon show anymore,” Thomas said. “At a time when so many people are concerned about how fragmented his focus is as a leader, it makes sense to try to educate people about the team – that the team is more than Elon.”
Ever since Musk led a $44 billion acquisition of Twitter and named himself CEO there last October, Tesla shareholders have vented their frustration at his split focus, his use of Tesla personnel to help him with Twitter, and expressed the controversy he has fueled with his own tweets and through massive changes to the platform.
According to YouGov data shared with CNBC, his moves on Twitter and increased political provocation on Twitter appear to have dampened interest in the Tesla brand, particularly among left-leaning potential customers and shareholders.
While Investor Day highlighted Tesla’s bank, diversity wasn’t a strong point: Only two of the executives who presented were women. Thomas said that in 2023, two women on stage out of 17 presenters represented a “very poor performance” and did not convey an “optimistic feeling” about diversity and equity in the company.
The presentation could have been more polished as well. While some presenters spoke more confidently, others nervously read from teleprompters.
“It’s public speaking, not public reading. It’s hard to trust someone who’s supposed to be the expert but looks down and reads scripts. Too often engineers think they can speak publicly, but these skills are part of any leader’s toolbox,” advises Thomas.
Investor Day may have managed to showcase the Tesla team, but the content left some fans and analysts behind disappointed.
For one, Thomas said the event started late and lasted far too long — about three hours, followed by a question-and-answer session. “People struggle to get through a two-hour action movie these days! A three-hour investor presentation totally lacks focus,” said Thomas.
Tesla also failed to deliver clear takeaways at Investor Day. “Every good presentation should include a few key takeaways – are they obvious to investors and why are they important to Tesla’s future?” This event didn’t achieve that,” she added.
Tesla’s longtime head of investor relations, Martin Viecha, seemed to concede that the meeting was too long and that key points may not be clear to everyone. He posted a 9-point summary on Twitter “for those who don’t have 3 hours to spare.”
Executives also waited several hours after the start of the event to confirm the company’s biggest news of the week. At the start of a question-and-answer session, Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla will open its next major factory outside of Monterrey, Mexico.
He offered no new details.
On Thursday, Mexican officials filled in some of those gaps in media interviews, revealing that Tesla is expected to spend $5 billion in the short term and $10 billion in the long term for the vehicle assembly plant and employ between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
The factory will be Tesla’s largest in the world, with a land purchase of about 4,200 acres in an industrial park and the capacity to build up to 1 million cars per year. In contrast, the Tesla factory in Austin, Texas, covers an area of about 2,500 acres.
At Investor Day, Musk said he believed some officials from Mexico were in attendance. He didn’t give their names and wasn’t sure of their titles. Thomas said that if the new factory is important to Mexico’s economic future and to Tesla’s business, it is unwise for the CEO to treat these officials in a casual, lackluster manner. He could have greeted the guests by name and acknowledged their partnership more respectfully.